Scheme launched to attract more drivers
A new pilot scheme in North Wales has been launched to recruit more drivers and increase diversity in the transport sector. The move is part of the Welsh Government’s plan to support the public bus sector in Wales.
Business Wales, the Welsh Government’s business support programme, launched the scheme in collaboration with the Welsh Government transport department, the Traffic Commissioner for Wales and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). With recruitment and staff retention being key issues for transport operators, Business Wales has started working with operators to find new drivers and is helping them to access support with training costs. The aging workforce and lack of female drivers is hampering the delivery of services across Wales, according to the scheme’s organisers.
As part of the initiative, Business Wales is also liaising with DWP job centres to find suitable candidates and DWP is providing support through their external provision fund. Business Wales will help operators shortlist applicants and invite them to work experience opportunities. DWP will pay for PSV driver training for their customers to encourage more people to gain employment in the industry. In exchange for recruitment and training support, employers will need to commit to attend diversity workshops and agree to make adjustments to their recruitment policy.
The first workshop has already taken place at Llandudno Junction and others are planned during May and June. The scheme is being piloted in North Wales before being rolled out to Mid Wales then South Wales during the year.
Alpine Travel’s Chris Owens commented on the scheme: “While I applaud Welsh Government’s intentions and welcome any interventions which might help improve the profile of the bus and coach industry with regards to recruitment, I do feel it is far too little too late.
“As an industry in Wales we have experienced more than our fair share of bad publicity. Whether it be in the form of some catastrophic business failures such as GHA, Silcox, Lewis Llanrhystud, D Jones & Sons or the more high-profile fraud scandals involving operators such as Padarn Bus & Express Motors. None of this makes working in the PCV sector sound particularly appealing.
“I believe the idea of improving diversity in the sector to be a bit of a misnomer, if we look at our business, we have a good mix of ages and ethnicities although I must admit, we do only have around 5% of the driving workforce being female. So some positive enforcement in this area would be most welcome.
“I believe an aging workforce to be a common theme across businesses in almost every sector. Much of the bus and coach sector in Wales was made up of smaller village and community operators. It was very difficult for them to invest to ensure they were able to remain compliant and provide continuity of employment in the longer term. This resulted in aging workforces.”